The Genius in the Walls


That elusive, fickle, fiendish angel that all artists seek and grasp for and long to hold on to.

Sometimes we call it the muse. Or inspiration. Sometimes we see it as a benevolent wisp or magic, empowering us and sending the thing we create into a higher, more transcendent space. It is our saving grace, making us brighter and better.

Other times we beat ourselves over the head for our inability to access it. The muse is gone. Our characters aren’t talking to us. The music isn’t flowing from our fingers. Our paintbrush is stilled. The scribbling of our pencil is garbage.

I watched a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert about the muse concept recently and it got me thinking even more about artists and the expectation that we will be unstable. How many news stories have you read about an artist/singer/actor who committed suicide? Celebrities in self-destructive cycles who land themselves in rehab is a cliche for a reason. It happens. A lot.

Much of the time, artist are seen as nothing but their art. The idea that an actor could also be an activist is often laughed at. Ashton Kutcher got involved in fighting against human trafficking and he was told, “Stay in your own lane.” As if that kind of fight doesn’t need all the help anyone is willing to offer.

We sure do like to put people in boxes. And then we want them to stay there. But an artist of any sort isn’t JUST an artist. The muse comes and goes, and when it’s gone, there is other life to live and other pursuits to chase.

Elizabeth talked about the genius in the walls. It’s the idea from bygone years that a person could not become a genius. Instead, genius was something that would come and go of its own accord. Genius was its own entity. This idea is on par with a literal muse. If your muse isn’t in the room to inspire you, or if your genius isn’t in the walls ready to speak to you, then you’re just fresh out of luck.

Honestly, I’m not sure if I like this idea or not. On the one hand, it’s convenient to just say “My muse isn’t speaking to me.” That leaves me off the hook. But we all know that hard work and discipline are often more than half the battle, so it’s impossible to buy into the idea entirely. 

Still. It’s a thought. And there is certainly something to be said for the very real struggle of creating when you’re not feeling inspired. Sometimes, inspiration truly does hit and the writing just flows, and it’s beautiful. Other times I’ll stare at my computer for an hour and only eek out a sentence or two. Still other times I’ll set aside quiet time, have a goal in mind, and I’ll make myself be productive by sheer force of will. Whether what I force myself to produce will be great or not—that’s a toss up.

Like so many things, it’s not a matter of muse versus self-motivation. It’s not one or the other. It’s not black or white. It’s more complex than that. People are more complex than that. Creativity is more complex than that.

Because this life? It’s complicated.

Weekly Book Highlights

I love Nichole Van’s work. And these first two books in her Brotherhood of the Black Tartan series are on sale for $.99 each today only!

Julie L. Spencer has a YA sports romance series, and the description of this book sounds super cute.

Dylan knew his snarky new tutor was smart, gorgeous and a great basketball player. He just didn’t realize she had a boyfriend, until after he kissed her.

The Way We See Ourselves

My sister visited me last week. We got into a conversation about how we grew up, what our relationships were like with our siblings then, and what they are now. How much we know each other, how much we don’t.

That led to a discussion about how I view myself as an adult. I was an emotional and very sensitive kid, and I think that led me to believe that I would be an emotionally needy adult. But now, looking back on close to twenty years of adulting, it surprises me to realize how comfortable I am being emotionally independent. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I just really need a hug from my husband, but I don’t feel the need to reach out to people very often. I don’t know if that’s an introvert thing, or a social thing, or something else. Regardless, I’ve decided that it’s not a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just different from what I expected I would become.

I wonder how many times we do that to ourselves. How often do we pigeon hole ourselves into a space that we think we fit—or that we think others expect us to occupy—without ever realizing that that isn’t us, at least not anymore.

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I Choose You—NEW Deleted Scene

I’ve got a new deleted scene for you all to enjoy! This one comes from All That Stands Between Us, and it’s an alternate version of Julie and Drew’s reunion.

To read it in its entirety, you’ll have to subscribe to my newsletter to get access to all my extras. If you’ve already subscribed, check your email inbox for my latest letter. If you have GMAIL, it will be in your Promotions folder.

Here’s the beginning…

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I Got A Gesture For You!

The first time I met my husband’s father was, shall we say, memorable. My father-in-law was an engineer. Cerebral. Quiet. Logical.

This is me and my man back in the day.

I went to their house to meet the family and we played one of their favorite games. My husband told me beforehand that while his mom would welcome me with an effusive hug and probably ask me to call her mom, his dad would likely just nod, say “nice to meet you” and that would be it.

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Character Driven Plot

I was part of an author panel hosted by Romancing the Capitol. This was their first time having a panel specifically dedicated to Clean Romance Authors and I was so happy to be a part of it. It was live-streamed on YouTube and you can go watch it here.

One of the questions asked was about how we as authors keep our stories new and fresh. That was an easy questions for me to answer because my plots are driven by my characters, and I do my best to make my characters human. There are billions of people on this earth and we all live unique lives because each day is filled with thousands of decisions to be made, both big and small. Each of those decisions will change our course, whether drastically or incrementally.

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Types of Heroes

What’s your hero preference? Do you like to read about silent, mysterious, and brooding men? Do you like a hero with confidence and swagger? Or friendliness and charm? Do you like the nerd? The goofball?

Personally, I tend to go for charm, but I’m also a sucker for a little bit of brooding. A good brood can make for some great tension, so long as it doesn’t cross the line into disrespectful and rude.

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Something a Little Different

How are you, friends? Are you still surviving the craziness of homeschooling (or remote learning, or distance learning or WHATEVER they’re calling it in your town)? Have you found the goodness among the chaos?

I certainly hope all is well in your neck of the woods and that you are being kind to yourself.

As for me, I need to get my bootie into gear and start recording the audio/video version of Missing Lily. That’s on my to-do list for this week.

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